Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-02-22



NUNN ON ONE: MAGIC Jeff Hobson bringing flamboyant persona to Chicago
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times

This article shared 3337 times since Tue Mar 3, 2015
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

"The Illusionists: Witness the Impossible" is coming to town, featuring a powerful mix of magicians who are ready to dazzle us. Audiences will witness levitation, mind reading, and a full view water torture escape. There are seven different magicians in The Illusionists act with a specific title and specialty in the art of fantasy.

Jeff Hobson is one of the cast and known as The Trickster. He plays a personality based on Paul Lynde with the glitzy clothes of Liberace.

His television appearances include NBC's Magic On the Edge and Fox Family's Masters of Illusion. His awards include Stage Magician of the Year by the Academy of Magical Arts and Best Magic Review by the World Magic Awards.

Windy City hopped on Hobson while out on the road to talk about his flashy act.

Windy City Times: Hi, Jeff. Where in the world are you calling from?

Jeff Hobson: Schenectady, New York.

WCT: Are you in the middle of the tour?

Jeff Hobson: We are. New York this week then next week is Philadelphia. The following week is a split week between Rochester and Buffalo. We come to Chicago after that. I love it there.

WCT: So you have been here before?

Jeff Hobson: Are you kidding? I'm a Detroit boy. Where do you go for relief from there? You either go to Toronto by train or a four-hour drive to Chicago. Chicago was my hang out for many years.

WCT: Growing up in Detroit, did you always want to be a magician?

Jeff Hobson: It is the typical story of a kid seeing a magician and wanting to be them. I was stunned with wonder at one performance then years later I was onstage doing the same thing.

WCT: Do magicians just start off small and grow into bigger tricks?

Jeff Hobson: Yes, with a very few exceptions most start off with small slight of hand or easy to do tricks from a magic shop. Eventually you develop your own personality and flair. It becomes about the showmanship and entertainment. Your vehicle is the magic.

WCT: Did you do birthday parties when you started?

Jeff Hobson: Oh yeah. I have done about 24,000 shows in my career and 2,000 of them was when I was a teenager at multiple school shows, banquets for the Cub Scouts, birthday parties and family basement shows. I have done everything there is to do. Nothing surprises me at all. You can't phase me!

WCT: Is Vegas the ultimate for magicians?

Jeff Hobson: It was because Vegas has been through ebbs and flows during recession times. I was on the Strip for 15 years—six shows a week with two shows a night. I had a wonderful time.

Now it seems like the cruise ship industry is the new Las Vegas because all of the acts that used to perform in Vegas now have moved over to cruise ships. It's not because they are old or anything but Vegas has changed. It is much more of a nightclub town and more edgy. Class is starting to wane away unfortunately.

WCT: When did you start fire-eating?

Jeff Hobson: I saw another magician do it and wanted to learn. I started to burn myself and I would scream. The audience would laugh so I decided to make it a comedy bit. I do it for comedy when I do it.

WCT: How was The Illusionists created?

Jeff Hobson: This unlike most shows just developed out of the mind of one rogue producer named Simon Painter. He is one of those quiet genius individuals who thinks a huge idea then it happens. He has other shows but always loved magic. He wanted the greatest magic show in the world. He called magicians to find out who was best. He put them all together and the next thing you know we are selling out on Broadway. It is really wild and great.

WCT: There is a big age range of magicians?

Jeff Hobson: Yes; I am actually I am the oldest. The youngest is 21. His name is Yu Ho-Jin and is from South Korea. He is known as The Manipulator. He wows audiences. He went to the championships of magic in Europe two years ago, nobody knew who was, and he blew everyone away. He was the best thing ever and now he is in our show.

WCT: There are escape artists, also?

Jeff Hobson: Yes. Andrew Basso The Escapologist is from Italy and only in his 20s. He defies death nightly. It is not a trick what he does. He actually goes upside down as Houdini did inside of a water chamber. He holds his breathe for many minutes while he gets out of handcuffs and tries to escape from this thing. We are pretty nervous when we watch it every night. I don't even like watching it anymore. I just ask someone to find me if it goes wrong so I can find help.

WCT: You are playing a character modeled after Liberace?

Jeff Hobson: I have always loved the old school guys like Paul Lynde, and Rip Taylor. I love the flamboyance of that. As a matter of fact right now the costume that I wear in the show for the finale I have shoes with all Swarovski rhinestones, over 1,000 on the shoes with over 5,000 on the collar of my jacket. I bring it out and I am quite sparkly.

I think I am old-school with a new-school twist.

WCT: I heard you opened for Phyllis Diller.

Jeff Hobson: I did. That was years ago and I thought she was old then in '80s then of course she only died a dew years ago and was still performing at her age. She forgot my name three times. She would stick her head offstage and say, "What's your name, darlin'?"

WCT: So this is an homage to the theatrics of the past. You are not making fun of them?

Jeff Hobson: Exactly. I think I am the last guy on Earth doing this style. People call me "very Vegas, kitschy and campy," but there is nobody doing it anymore.

I worked a charity show with all of the top comedians not too long ago. They didn't know me and I didn't know them. We are just doing a couple of minutes for this charity. I went on last and got the most laughs. They asked me where I have been and I told them I have been working. I think I have been doing it so long that it has gone out of style and back in style again!

WCT: The showmanship with glamour and glitz is not around as much.

Jeff Hobson: People want to see that because so many think entertainment is glamorous. We still have to play the part. People want to escape their hum drum lifestyle. That is why movies are movies.

Reality television just kills me. I have no idea why anyone watches the Kardashians. If you want drama, just look at the bills you have to pay every month. Now that is drama!

WCT: Do you put a lot of money back into the act?

Jeff Hobson: My act is very simple. I just do a few tricks. I don't want the audience to remember my tricks just that I was funny. I want them to pee their pants!

WCT: I loved magic as a kid and would put on shows in my garage.

Jeff Hobson: Oh, so you are a hobbyist. Then you will recognize my egg-bag trick that I do at the end. We will see if you remember it when I am done.

WCT: Some people love figuring out a trick but sometimes its best to just enjoy the show.

Jeff Hobson: That is the different cultures of the world. It is best to lay back and enjoy it. In America, we are a television generation where we like to watch. In China, people are insulted if they can't figure it out. Chinese audience members will talk amongst themselves to try to solve it. Isn't that interesting?

The Illusionists make magic at the Cadillac Palace, 151 W. Randolph St., March 10-22. For more information, visit or .

This article shared 3337 times since Tue Mar 3, 2015
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Gay News

Kokandy Productions announces 2023 Season 2023-03-22
--From a press release - CHICAGO (March 22, 2023) — Kokandy Productions is thrilled to announce its 2023 season, including two fully produced musicals, plus plans for the return of the Chicago Musical Theatre Festival. This summer, Kokandy will dive into ...

Gay News

Opera Preview: Life of gay World War II hero Alan Turing transformed into a world-premiere opera 2023-03-17
- It has taken a decade for The Life and Death(s) of Alan Turing to grow from an idea into a full- fledged opera. Chicago Opera Theater stages the world premiere of composer Justine F. Chen and ...

Gay News

Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project to present dance concert 'Sans Pareil' 2023-03-14
--From a press release - Deeply Rooted Dance Theater joins the Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project again to take the stage in a dance concert entitled Sans Pareil—French for "unparalleled," a nod to the Haitian lineage of Chicago's founder, Jean-Baptiste Pointe ...

Gay News

House Musical, Coming of Age in the Age of House, coming to Hoover-Leppen Theatre 2023-03-14
--From a press release - Campsongs Productions presents the world premiere of House Musical - Coming of Age in the Age of House, with book by Marcus Waller, music by Scott Free (with Michael Foley) and lyrics by Scott Free and ...

Gay News

RuPaul's Drag Race WERQ THE WORLD in Chicago Aug. 4 2023-03-12
--From a press release - RuPaul's Drag Race WERQ THE WORLD, the largest drag show on earth, returns in 2023 with a show in Chicago Aug. 4 and in 100+ cities across the United States, Canada, Australia, Asia, Europe and Mexico! ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Little Richard, Indigo Girls, Rodriguez's honor, dance film, Pedro Pascal 2023-03-10
Video below - Produced by Bungalow Media + Entertainment for CNN Films and HBO Max, in association with Rolling Stone Films, director Lisa Cortes' Sundance opening-night documentary Little Richard: I Am Everything will debut in theaters and on VOD ...

Gay News

Steppenwolf Theatre Company's 2023 Gala May 13 at The Old Post Office 2023-03-06
--From a press release - CHICAGO (March 6, 2023) — The Steppenwolf Ensemble and Board of Trustees are pleased to host Steppenwolf 2023 Gala—an unforgettable evening celebrating 47 years of powerful and thought-provoking storytelling. Emceed ...

Gay News

Center on Halsted presents annual Intergenerational Talent Show 2023-03-06
- On March 2, Center on Halsted hosted its Fifth Annual Intergenerational Talent Show, featuring performances from participants from the Youth and Family Services and the Senior Services programs. Participants in the free event presented a program ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Wanda Sykes, Jonas Brothers, 'Queen of Versailles,' 'Bloodshed' 2023-03-04
Adam Lambert video below - Award-winning comedian Wanda Sykes' new comedy special, I'm An Entertainer, will premiere globally on Netflix on May 23, a press release announced. The special, directed by Linda Mendoza, was filmed in early February 2023 at Philadelphia's ...

Gay News

Theater Review: one in two 2023-03-01
- Playwright: Donja R. Love. At: PrideArts at Pride Arts Center, 4139 N. Broadway Tickets: 773-857-0222; $35. Runs through March 19 Playwright Donja R. Love stresses that lower case letters should be used for the title of ...

Gay News

The Jeff Awards to honor Myrna Salazar with special non-Equity honor 2023-03-01
--From a Jeff Awards press release - (March 1, 2023 - Chicago) — Recognizing a lifetime of theater excellence, the Joseph Jefferson Awards will honor the late arts activist Myrna Salazar at the organization's 49th Anniversary Non-Equity Awards celebration on Monday, March 2 ...

Gay News

PrideArts presents 'one in two' 2023-02-22
--From a press release - Title: one in two. By Donja R. Love/ Directed by Jordan Ratlliff Monday, Feb. 20 - 7:30 p.m. Pride Arts Center, 4139 N. Broadway, Chicago One in two Black men in America who have sex with other men will be diagnosed ...

Gay News

Christine Heesun Hwang personifies Eponine in Les Miserables 2023-02-19
- Out performer Christine Heesun Hwang "dreamed a dream" of joining the cast one of Les Miserables—now showing at the Cadillac Palace Theater—and now she's made that dream into a reality. Set in 19th-century France, Les Miserables ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Black queer films, Janet Jackson, Paramore, WNBA, GALECA contest 2023-02-19
- Queerty ran a piece on 10 films that celebrate Black queer love. Some of them include The Skinny (with Jussie Smollett), Dee Rees' movie Pariah, the Oscar-winning Moonlight, the Marlon Riggs classic Tongues Untied, Brother to ...

Gay News

Theater Review: Cabaret continues to reflect on our modern challenges 2023-02-14
- Title: Cabaret. Book: Joe Masteroff; Score: John Kander & Fred Ebb. At: Porchlight Music Theatre at Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St. Tickets: 773-777-9884 or; prices begin at $25. Runs through ...


Copyright © 2023 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.






About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.